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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Back From Angel Island

Back from Angel Island State Park now. We had a really great time. It was an awesome little trip. Backpacking through SF was amusing, riding the ferry out was good fun, and the island itself was just perfect for a three-day stint. I've done a lot of camping, but never in quite this setting: at a primitive site overlooking a busy shipping lane, with Alcatraz in swimming distance, with the San Francisco skyline as a backdrop and the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate at either side of the horizon. That was our view.

We hiked in about a mile and half, backpacks and all, and spent most of the second day walking the five mile perimeter road around the island. What's so unusual about the place is that it's an unspoiled collage of historical ruins from several time periods: 19th century barracks, early twentieth century immigration stations, quarantine areas, cold war military batteries, not to mention the Native American history that predates it all. By "unspoiled" I actually just mean that the ruins dot the island like ghost towns, decaying, haunted, so very quiet. There's something about the silence and the emptiness of the spaces that makes the connection with the place's history tangible in a way that no museum or complete reconstruction or reenactment could. It's like you're walking on sacred ground, across earth and through buildings with memories.

The kids felt it, too. On their own impulse, they couldn't help but tell tales of murder and hauntings, of escaped prisoners that lived on yet among the echoing halls. They just felt it.

This is not to say it was morbid. We were surrounded by life and movement and lights in the evening. (Ah, the view...)

I feel like mentioning as well that part of the joy of it was just being with my family without outside stimulus or interruption. We played many card games, read and told stories. I'd forgotten - and bear in mind that I'm actually home often and get to spend a lot of time with my family - just how completely wonderful it is to have belly laughs inspired by nothing other than the comedy that springs out of conversations with the ones you love. (A lot of the humor was Sage inspired. The boy has absolutely no poker face!)

If you'd like to see some photos you can check out the snaps at our family blog, Girl Cat Snoozing. (The two photos here I stole from over there, but there are a few more, as well.) My wife, Gudrun, is into experimenting with her camera, hence the strange effects...

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Just What The Hell Is Wrong With Us?

That's a question Richard K Morgan asked a while back in a rather heated article about backbiting factionalism in Sci-Fi and Fantasy. If you've been reading my posts for a while you've heard me say lovely things about my fellow spec-fic writers. Things are good. I like these people. They like me, it seems. But that may be a new arrival's rosy-eyed view of things.

If you've visited here in the past you may also know that I respect Mr. Morgan as a writer. I dig what he does. I'm interested in what he has to say, and I'm aware that I'll be thinking about his complaints in this essay often as I navigate my upcoming sci-fi/fantasy events (ReaderCon in July and Denvention in August).

Anyway, here's the post if you're interested. Let me know what you think...

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Angel Island


Hi. Early in the AM here in Fresno. Just writing to say that I'm off camping for a few days at Angel Island State Park. Should be interesting. We have to walk through downtown San Francisco with our backpacks on to get the ferry out to the island.

I've got a new mini-cassette tape handy, so I've every intention of having lots of good plot ideas, lines of dialogue, descriptive flourishes recorded over the next few days. Work on the book will continue! So it's not a vacation. Not completely, at least...

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mary Robinette Kowal on NASA and Ball Gowns

The wonderful Jon Armstrong has been kind enough to invite his fellow (yes - he's in the running for this thing, with his debut novel Grey) John W Campbell Award Nominees to do podcast interviews for his show If You're Just Joining Us.

Mary Robinette Kowal was the first up. She talks about Ms Piggy's lack of moving eyelids and an embarrassing exhibition of puppet self-love, among other things. Listen here.

Is this an act of camaraderie, or is Jon trying to find ways to embarrass us publicly?...

I'm not asking that question seriously at all. Jon's clearly a great guy, another one of these individuals that makes you glad to be writing in this loosely inclusive genre.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Parallax and Kindred Awards

(With just a hint of self-interest...) I wanted to remind folks that the Carl Brandon Society is now accepting nominations to award books published in 2007. You can learn more about the society on their website, but some highlights are as follows.

Their Mission...

"The mission of the Carl Brandon Society is to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction."

That's a good mission. It'll take vision to achieve it, though. Their vision...

"We envision a world in which speculative fiction, about complex and diverse cultures from writers of all backgrounds, is used to understand the present and model possible futures; and where people of color are full citizens in the community of imagination and progress."

I dig that. I think, actually, it's near the heart of what I tried to do with Acacia. Or... it's near one of the hearts. I'd like to think Acacia is chock full of hearts. Here's how they describe the two awards...

"The Carl Brandon Parallax Award is given to works of speculative fiction created by a person of color. Nominees must provide a brief statement self-identifying as a person of color; creators unwilling to do so will not be considered for this award. This Award includes a $1000 cash prize.

The Carl Brandon Kindred Award is given to any work of speculative fiction dealing with issues of race and ethnicity; nominees may be of any racial or ethnic group. This Award includes a $1000 cash prize."

It may take a while for the winners to be announced. Actually, I'm not sure what the time frame is at all. I know that the winners for books published in 2005 were Walter Mosley for 47 and Susan Vaught for Stormwitch, but the winners for books published in 2006 have yet to announced... No worries, though. Patience is a virtue.

So, if you're inclined to get me in the running you can do so HERE. I believe you'd find the nominating process is easy, just a short form. By the way, I'd encourage you to nominate other writers as well. Awards - even awards with a specific focus like this - can miss people. So don't let that happen!

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

French Acacia Release Date and Acacia Recommended by... Orson Scott Card - in French?

I've just learned that the release date for the French version of Acacia will be October 16th. I'm really looking forward to that. One can never know how a book is going to do at home or abroad, but so far my French publisher has expressed much enthusiasm for the book. As I understand it, Acacia is the fall book on the list, the one that'll be getting the biggest push. Love that. Here's hoping it works. I'd love to be big in France...

Getting that news put me in "killing a few hours in the French Fantasy blogosphere Mode". Over at Ebalkin.net, I came across a search that turned up an interview with Orson Scott Card. I promptly began scanning, and what do you know? I'm in there! Here's the question and the relevant part of the answer:

Avez-vous des livres à recommander à nos lecteurs, en fantasy ou autre ?

Card : Je ne sais pas exactement ce qui a été traduit, mais il y a de très bons nouveaux romans : The Name of the Wind de Patrick Rothfuss, Acacia de David Anthony Durham, et Mistborn et Elantris de Brandon Sanderson.

Ah! Translation, translation... Babel Fish to the rescue...

Do you have books to recommend to our readers, in fantasy or other?

Card: I do not know exactly what was translated, but there are very good new novels:
The Name off the Wind of Patrick Rothfuss, Acacia of David Anthony Durham, and Mistborn and Elantris of Brandon Sanderson.

So, yes, that's a "recommendation". What do you folks think of that? I'll admit to being pleased that such an amazingly popular author (one whose work I have enjoyed) chose to mention my work, but I can't go too far with that positive response before I start to ruminate on the other side of Mr. Card: all that political stuff.

There are some significant and fundamental things that I disagree with him 100% on. There are occasional moments when he thoroughly surprises me by coming to conclusions that I do agree with. And a lot of the time when reading his essays I'm a bit knotted up by his labyrinthine logic - which I'm sure he doesn't feel is labyrinthine at all.

For a basic introduction this article in School Library Journal isn't bad. If you don't know what his politics are you could check out his posts on World Watch - The Ornery American. He is very public in his views (even on Star Wars), and a Google search about his politics provides both his own words and plenty of responses to them. (Check out this essay by John Kessel, for example.) Oh, and the folks at Elbakin.net just sent me a link the the entire OSC interview in English.

But what should any of that mean to me in reference to his recommending my work? They asked him for fantasy recommendations; he mentioned me. Any thing wrong with that?

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Groove, and BEA (Day Two)

You know what's happened to me the last week or so?

I've gotten my groove back.

Seriously. It's a while, a painful while. I just wrapped up my introductory year of teaching at Cal State. Kinda crimped my writing production when I was teaching. Not saying it's not a worthy profession and that my job isn't a rather primo one; but still - it turns me into a part-time writer. That's just the truth. Before that I had to deal with a move from Colorado to California, and before that I taught a demanding year at Colorado College.

Throughout all this, I kept chipping away at Acacia: The Other Lands, but chipping away isn't the way I prefer to write. I like to be up to my ears in my material. I want ideas bobbing against me all day. I want to be composing scenes in the dentist's chair, rearranging chapters at SaveMart. I want to be stunned by plot points revealed as I'm flipping eggs. When writing is going well for me it's a pretty all-encompassing thing that becomes a part of everything I do. It has not been that for the last two years. I still got work done, but...

Not like I have the last week! I'm free, with nothing to do for a little while but write. (Well, and be a husband and father, with all that entails - but you know what I mean.) I know my window of time is short before other commitments start interfering, but it's so, so wonderful to realize that I can get that full-time writer buzz back! It's here. I'm in it. I'm a writer again, and the words they are lining up.

And to some degree that's why I've neglected my Day Two BEA post. It's no big deal. Not that much happened, but I've been distracted. I will now take a few moments out and tell you what happened, should you be interested to know... (Oh, and I know! I don't have any original photos. That's cause I'm lame and don't want to carry a camera around - or feel silly asking to take photos. Instead, I cull from the internet...)

Day Two was Scalzi day. Yep. I'll admit it. My day was shaped around arranging to hang out with John Scalzi. (Didn't have that much else to do anyway, but this would still have been a highlight even if I did.) We met up for coffee and had a good long chat. (Some of you may be wondering who picked up the tab. Answer: man of class... uh, Scalzi. Waved away my pathetic attempt at bill shuffling and took charge. Impressively done. Now, do bear in mind that I have my own internal calculator for such things. I know now, and will not forget, that I owe John a drink of some sort. I can reciprocate, see? I'll settle up at Denvention, I hope.)

Paranoyd said he was curious about my "take" on Scalzi. I'd say it's this: He's a great guy. He's personable and funny, seems generous with his time and gracious in dealing with fans. He speaks his mind in the same engaging way he does on Whatever. (By the way, today is his thirteenth wedding anniversary. If you haven't already, go over to Whatever and say, "Ahh...") He claims that he can dance, although I did not witness this and can't confirm it. But another thing you notice about him is a sense of confidence. He knows who he is, what he does well, what people think of him, and he seems to rather like the way things have played out for him. (Tell me if I'm wrong, John.) I mean that in a completely positive sense, by the way. It's a good way to be, and I wish it on more people.

I'd also mention how nice it is to feel a sense of camaraderie with fellow writers. It's not quite the same vibe in the Big L "literary" world. Things are pricklier. But I've just had a great time recently connecting with writers like John, and like Tobias Buckell, Mary Robinette Kowal, Patrick Rothfuss and plenty more. I may be wrong, but so far it feels like this is a group of young writers that wants to encourage, support and just hang out with other writers. That may seem like nothing other than what you'd expect, but believe me writers in general can be a strange bunch. Who would've thought the world of fantasy and sci-fi would introduce me to so many people that actually seem... like pretty decent and (ironically) down to earth human beings (with quirks, admittedly).

While still with John I had a celeb author sighting: Neal Stephenson. Only from the back, though. I was sitting with Scalzi and he said, looking beyond me, "Oh, there's Neal Stephenson." Then he qualified that spotting by saying Mr. Stephenson appeared to have no interest in being approached by random people. He had a serious face on - as well as a rather sharp suit and, if I remember correctly, a completely shaved head. He'd been somewhere and was now going somewhere else and deserved to be left alone. Honestly, I get that completely. (I, on the other hand, walked through the same area with a smiley, open face that said, "Come on. Approach me. I know somebody here recognizes me. Just admit it..." But Neal is clearly past that.) I'm a fan of his, and I love it that he has a new book coming out.

So, does the fact that I saw Neal Stephenson but didn't even speak to him merit reporting? Not in and of itself. But I don't mind mentioning it as part of the over all vibe of the entire BEA scene. The place was just chock full of authors and celebs. They were all around, and knowing that tends to make ones eyes a little manic, jumping around, wondering who is who. Wondering if you'll recognize your favorite famous author when you see them in person (bearing in mind that some author photos are Biblically old or wonderfully flattering - which makes author ID potentially tricky).

After coffee Scalzi and me went over to the Tor booth to hang out a bit more. Cool sitting behind the Tor lines, watching passerby wondering who I was and how I managed to be on the other side of the barrier. Who I was (if they'd asked me) was kind of a goof. I must of been tired from the day before, because I didn't actually make the best use of my Tor booth time, see the following examples...

Cory Doctorow. I have to admit that I got a little weird with Cory. He's exploding just now, has a wonderful new book (according to the likes of Neil Gaiman), Little Brother, and is very much in demand and successful on tons of fronts. Scalzi introduced me to him at the booth. Thing is we were sitting there talking for a while and he asked me what my book was about. I said... "Oh, I don't know." He said, "No, tell me. It's been out a year, right? You must know how to pitch it by now." I shrugged and smiled and... didn't answer. He said, "You really don't want to tell me, do you?" I then directed him to John, saying, "Ask him. He's read it." But John was being devoured by some fan or another and couldn't really be consulted. So, end of story is that Cory left with no idea of who I am as a writer, probably convinced that I'm an amateur that never really lived in Scotland for five years, or anything else that I claimed...

In which case, you might ask me, "Why didn't you just tell him what Acacia was about?"

My answer... I was kinda hungover.

Uh... Other than that, I have - and still do - think it hard to explain 600 page books in sound bites. It's not really possible. When it's done it's marketing palaver. I'm not at all suggesting that Cory was asking for my pitch. I am saying that I'd seen/heard so much pitch madness that I hated the notion of pitching him. Anyway, I was in a mood.

I was still in this strange mood when Brandon Sanderson came by. I saw him standing there. I could read his badge... but I didn't say hi. Weirdness. I wish I had. I wish I'd said, "Brandon, dude... What's up? How you doing? You've got tons of cool things happening all at once! Okay, tell me true, is it a good thing to be finishing Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series? I'm just saying - lots of folks think that's a dream job, but... it could also be a burden of unusual size." But I didn't speak, and then the moment passed...

When I left the booth I did the thing I said I wasn't gonna do. (Well, no, not the thing. Just one of the things...) I grabbed several of the Christopher Paolini Brisingr tote bags and began the harvest! Oh, there were books to be grabbed. There were lines to stand in. There were authors I'd never heard of to shake hands with. I circled and circled, and - despite the apparent physical activity - I got heavier with every lap. It was book weight, though. That doesn't count. By the time I was near to leaving I made sure to turn my name badge around and hobbled out covert-like. Good thing I'd packed light on the way there.

Oh, and on a random note... It needs to be said that Tim Holman, the Publishing Director for Orbit Books, is a good bloke. I just want that on the record.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

BEA (Day 1)

Been there. Now I'm back. That's the important thing. (Yeah, I know. I got back a week ago, but here's my effort at a timely post anyway...)

The first day was really just travel and then heading out to the Random House Dinner. Ever gone out to function and realized you might be... um... under dressed? That's not exactly how I felt at the dinner, but it did feel like I was doing catch-up all night, only figuring out how things worked as the evening progressed...

Does this sound strange to you? The "Dinner" is really all about charmingly doing business. Each author has their own table in this super cool posh restaurant that we pretty much own for the night. Each author sits at said table with a hand selected group of editors, reviewers, publicists, book buyers and sellers, etc. You're supposed to hold court, field questions, convince these folks that you're awesome so that they'll do awesome stuff with your books. I guess that makes sense. It's just that nobody had told me ahead of time that that was in store for me!

I can't say if I achieved said goals completely, but I did blather away right through dinner, which seemed to be the right thing to do. The food was fabulous. Really, really good. I've got this thing where I don't usually eat much in situations like that, mostly for fear of ending up with bits of food prominently displayed across my front teeth. But, man, I had to have a feed this time. Stunningly good food.

So what about all these famous people I was supposed to hang out with? Well, it kinda happened. Thing is, once we were all situated at our tables I was caught up in that tight circle. So, while I was in paper airplane throwing distance of Barbara Walters, we didn't exactly have a sit down. I did smile at Mia Kirshner and sort of gawk at Ariana Huffington. (I mean that in the most favorable terms, of course.) Somehow, I managed not to even see Anne Rice or Jim Crace... I did actually shake hands and talk a bit with David Guterson. That was cool. It was some of the folks I didn't know as much of before that made the evening, though. For example...

Amada Boyden. Lovely. Used to be a contortionist and trapeze artist, you know. I don't know what she thinks of me, but I enjoyed our brief interaction. I hung on to the ARC of her new novel, Babylon Rolling, on my plane ride. She's a good writer, and brave. She writes about a very multicultural New Orleans and is willing to cross boundaries (and express an interest in) topics that few white American authors do.

Nick Harkaway – author of the forthcoming (and massively promoted) debut, The Gone-Away World – was great fun to hang out with. He emailed a few days after all this with a story that kept me smiling all day. Just before he left Britain for LA he’d bought a new fantasy novel. He read a few chapters and was enjoying it. When he flew, though, he packed light and decided to leave the book at home – especially considering the heft of the thing. I think he had a good, very busy time at BEA. It must have been quite overwhelming really, being dropped right into the book-pushing whirl of it all, suddenly a vip with the Random House machine behind you. Anyway, we got to spend time together on the Friday night. I liked him straightaway and we had some laughs. Talked all about our books, life in Britain and America, the weirdness of many things. On his return trip to the UK there was a glitch with the plane’s video system. He ended up with hours and hours of flight without anything to watch or much of anything to read. (I would have thought he’d have some free arcs with him, but who knows?) He got to thinking about that fantasy novel he’d left on his bed stand. It taunted him. Made fun of him, etc. He got home, eventually, and picked up the book, read a few more chapters. But only on closing the book and reading the cover did the title and the author’s name ring a bell. Yes, friends, he was reading Acacia by yours truly. Somehow, though, in the swirl of flights and LA and BEA he’d never connected me with the book! I actually understand exactly how this can happen.

You know who was a hoot to hang out with? Julia Glass, author of Three Junes (National Book Award Winner and Today Show Pick), The Whole World Over and the forthcoming I See You Everywhere. We were crossing the street from one bar to another restaurant when she introduced herself to me. I reverently said (yes, goofy things come out of my mouth when confronted with celebrities), "Oh, you're famous..." She forgave me that inauspicious beginning and we had some crack. (Don't gasp! I mean "crack" in the Irish sense of the word - craic - as in good, amusing conversation, a laugh, an easy social interaction. I could have said that in the first place, but good "crack" is what came to mind and describes the exchange. Anyway, don't say I didn't warn you about this word for the next time you head over Ireland...) She's got the coolest green glasses I've ever seen, and as others were dropping from fatigue she seemed content to chat away into the wee hours. (I'm clearly having a British moment, for some reason.)

There were some other great meetings that night. As I said, Nick Harkaway is getting a stellar launch in the UK and likely here as well, but Andrew Davidson, author of The Gargoyle, is one of those guys that's already "an international sensation" before his book has even pubbed. Hey, he was big even before his book was accepted for publication! Check out this article in the NY Magazine, with the title Agent Turns Down $1 Million Offer for First Novel. Geeze... And one of the editors mentioned there, Gerry Howard, in my editor. Apparently, Gerry did buy the book, for a whopping sum. (In case you're wondering - no, I've yet to have to struggle with whether to accept the Million $ book offer. Yet...)

I was reading through his arc, and noted that he'd sold the rights in twenty countries. I said, "Twenty countries, blimey." Andrew shrugged and said, "Actually, it's twenty-seven now." (Or some number higher than twenty. You get the point.) Yep, he's one of the "those guys" that arrives in a flurry of attention and makes jaws drop. I'm curious how this plays out. I liked him, so I'd like his book to do well. And I wish Gerry and Doubleday the best of course - they're my people. But these big deals are notoriously risky. Well see...

Also enjoyed a brief conversation with Nam Le, whose novel The Boat marks his debut. I enjoyed talking to him. I can't say much more than that, though, as my recollection of the evening starts to blur right around here...

I do know that I finished the evening by ordering late night room service and watching Fox News. (I know, I know... It's just this weird thing I do when staying in hotels by myself. Don't ask.) And that's about it, except that before I called it quits I checked my email and found a greeting from none other than John Scalzi, who wanted to meet up on the morrow out on the floor of the conference! Nice.

More on that soon...

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

In Praise Of The Wife

I'm going to take a wee break from pimping myself so that I can pimp my wife instead... Wait. That didn't sound quite how I meant it. Um... Let me explain.

To the right here is a rather artsy picture of my wife that I nabbed from her blog: The Shetland Trader. You see, she has this impressive online life as a knitwear designer. I don't mean your Grammy's reindeer scarf or chunky, ill-fitting sweaters that only get whipped out at Christmas gatherings. Naw, I mean cool stuff. Stuff you want! Granted, she does draw on her Shetland roots, but she then riffs on those traditions and comes up with her own creations. She goes by her maiden name, Gudrun Johnston, by the way. (If you have any of my books you'll note that she's taken all my author photos, too.)

(Photo to the left here is our son, Sage.) What does a knitwear designer do? Well, they don't sit at home knitting socks for sale. (Although socks are popular.) It's more a matter of dreaming up designs, knitting them, writing out patterns for them (which involves a lot of cursing), and then finding ways to publish those patterns, so that other people can buy them and knit the items themselves.

In the space of a year of making the jump to designing, she has been published in knitothennet, The Sanguine Griffin, KnitScene and has something coming out this winter in a new magazine that I shouldn't mention by name yet. She's pretty much been applauded everywhere she's submitted to, and even had folks seeking her out and asking her to send them things. Nothing but love. With all that, she's had to carve out time to publish patterns to her own blog, and those have been popular too.

(Photo to the left here is our daughter, Maya. She knits, too.) She has submitted to Knitty.com, the super-popular online knitwear magazine, twice now. How many times has she been published in Knitty? Twice. Not only that, her design has been on the cover both times. If you click on that link above it'll take you to the summer issue. The first photo you see if of our friend Marnell, looking wonderful in Gudrun's cover-winning design. Pretty cool, huh?

For tons more stuff you could check out her blog. You'll see that she's definitely got Shetland on her mind, but her specialty is taking inspiration from Shetland's knitting traditions and recasting them in completely contemporary, hip and inventive ways. People are responding. She gets more visitors to her blog than I do (um... a lot more - she's had over 1000 visitors in the few hours since Knitty went online), and her network of friends is truly international. Actually, through some of the knitting networking sites she knows that hundreds of people are currently knitting her designs.

Does anyone see a book deal in the near future? (I do.)

And here, by the way, is Marnel in the "Shetland Shorty", the design (and the photo) that scored the cover. Hard to beat...

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Monday, June 09, 2008

The Times - You Mean the London Times?

I know I just posted some UK review news about SFX, but apparently last weekend was a doubleheader... I got an email from my British publicist this morning alerting me to "a rather good review" of Acacia in the Times. It was immediately like, "You mean, THE Times?" The answer, I believe, is "Yes, The Times."

I'm the second half of a review that begins with the latest Arthur C. Clarke novel, Firstborn. Rather heady company. The reviewer says some very nice things, including...

"David Anthony Durham has won acclaim for his historical novels, and brings his knowledge of the past and other cultures to create a rich and compelling world on his first foray into fantasy. His skilful storytelling, depth of characterisation, and an ability to unsettle reader expectations is reminiscent of George R.R. Martin, but his is a distinctive new voice."

Wow. I'm all goose pimply... Here's the whole thing.

Addendum: June 14th. I just realized something that makes me even more chuffed about this review. I was so focused on the London Times side of things that I forgot to pay attention to who the reviewer was. It's Lisa Tuttle, sci-fi/fantasy/horror writer of lots of books! That's cool to me for several reasons. One is that she's an American writer that lives in Scotland. I was once an American writer that lived in Scotland - and I hope to be again eventually. I'd noted that we had that in common a few weeks ago and actually looked her up, making a note to seek her out if we were ever at a convention together. I'd also noted that she was a Campbell Award Winner - something which I don't yet have in common with her but, you know... I think about the pending award thing every now and then. And the third thing - I'd knew that she'd written a book with George RR Martin! The book is Windhaven. It's cool to know that the person comparing me to GRRM actually knows him so well that they've authored a book together.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

SFX

The "Earth's Greatest SF and Fantasy Magazine" (that's a quote but I don't doubt it) has given Acacia a rather lovely positive nod. The UK based SFX had nice things to say, including "This could be the arrival of a fantasy classic". But that's not even the best of it...

You can check it out here.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Final Winner - After the ReDo!

So you'll have to trust me on this (which is nothing new - you've had to trust me on all of it - I'm worthy of your trust, by the way), but the new, official winner was selected after an evening session of diving. I won't make you wait too long. You should know that Padme went up against the Wookie Tarful and the Gungin General Tarpals.

It was a close competition, but a definitive winner did arise. Said winner is seen in the this photo... Not being nearly as reserved as I expected, Tarful began working the crowd.

It's possible that the time spent down under caused some damage. I'm not sure. But he did get rather wild... Still, Tarfuls pulled it off. That, I believe, means that the Dynastic Queen is our official winner. All hail the Queen! And... least anyone doubt it, this is yet more evidence that good relations with the Wookies it is advantageous to have.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Acacia UK Giveaway Results!

Finally, the winner of last month's giveaway has been chosen! And elaborately chosen at that. My kids - in honor of the fact that we just moved and now have a pool! - proposed an aquatic component to the selection process. This'll take a minute to explain...

First off, Maya and Sage were kind enough to take the plunge...


We recruited some brave volunteers to assist us... We drew from races extending throughout the galaxy, accepting both human and alien recruits. We didn't discriminate on the basis of size, sex, appearance, number of limbs, flippers, tusks or anything else. There was but one condition: they had to sink. We were looking for dead weights that weren't afraid to risk everything in the deep blue. (This condition, by the way, excluded all Stormtroopers. We've found those guys to be unsinkable. It's why we've signed them up for the Stormtrooper Rafting Team, but that's a different story...)

There were a few last minute additions and replacements, but before long we had a company, each individual stepping forward to represent one of our contest competitors. Yes, they did it for you. What, exactly, did they do? They allowed Sage to toss them into the middle of the pool, where they promptly sunk...

Maya and Sage then dove in and (with complete objectivity) they each grabbed the first four figures they could. It's hard to measure how much the figures themselves affected the outcome, but I assure you the kids were objective participants simply grasping for whatever appeared in arms reach.

The result was a collection of eight semi-finalists. It was a hardy group, including humans like Padme and Shmi, the Jedi's Anakin and Kai Adi Mundi, the Gungans Jar Jar Binks and General Tarpals, some weird blue guy and the robust Tarful. They were tossed back into the water for another round, and this time only four came back...








The four finalists were cast into the pools once more. This time, though, they went in at the deep end. That's a thousand feet of water right there...
Both Maya and Sage made repeated dives, (And I mean repeated!) finding it difficult get down far enough. (Remember the Abyss and that funky liquid oxygen they breathed? My kids were starting to look like that rat by end of this, although lacking the oxygen...) And then... then...

Did you ever see the Luc Besson film Deep Blue (Le Grande Bleu)? I remember thinking that rocked. The guy was a dolphin in human trappings! Jean-Marc Barr, Rosanna Arquette, Jean Reno... Lots of blue water... It looked kinda like Maya rising with the winner.

And the winner is...


Jar Jar... Jar Jar? Oh, man... It's possible that he "accidentally" found some way to cheat, but I can't prove anything. His victory stands. Who, exactly, was Jar Jar representing? It's painful, but it's also obvious - Onebadgungan is our newest winner!

Just for the record, the contestant representation went like this (and was decided by Maya and Sage)...

Dirk - Dark Bounty Hunter Guy
Brian T Carroll - Warthog-looking Guy with tusks and robotic legs
Onebadgungan - Jar Jar Binks
Mike - Darth Sidious
GGallinThicke - Darth Maul
Bherstig - Newt Gunray
Inklings - Mas Ameda
Scott- Kai Adi Mundi
Borock - Blueface chubby guy
Gemini6toad - General Grievous
Talin - Padme
Ziggi - Yoda
Nblair - Shmi
Dynastic Queen - Wookie Warrior Tarful
Arkana - Obi Wan Kenobi
Erika Hamerquist - General Tarpals
Debbborra - Dexter Jetser
Mikejs - Ala Secura
Cal95757 - Anakin
PhoenixIce - Taun We

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Newly Inspired Liar

Okay, tomorrow we'll do the drawing for that copy of the UK edition of Acacia. I meant to do it today, but my kids came up with a rather elaborate way of choosing the winner this time. They spent a while practicing and by the end of that they were too tired to actually do the drawing. So, tomorrow it must be.

I did have this other thought, though, that just came to me...

It was prompted by two things. One, I heard an author interview recently that I thought was really good. Thing is, I didn't believe very much of the what the author was saying. Complete rubbish, but exactly the type of rubbish that listeners want to hear. Gets chuckles. Feeds authorial myths... It was really well done, and it made me reconsider my tendency to tell the truth when I do interviews. My approach has been kinda lame: I get asked a question; I answer honestly, even if the honest answer is dead boring. That's where I've been going wrong. I've got to lie more! Why didn't I see this sooner?

Quite a revelation this, and especially timely as (point # two) I just got a list of questions from a high school student preparing a paper. Heehee...

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Maya's Knights

It's been a little while since I had any of the kids' artwork up. Here's a new one from Maya. Knights!

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Contest Results Soon...

Hey, I just remembered.... Since the month of May has ended I need to draw for that free copy of the British Acacia! I’ve got the list on entrants on my Forum, and I’ll make the drawing happen as soon as I get my computer and printer up and running, etc. So they’ll be a winner soon!

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Some WisCon Connections

This is the post when I mention the fellow writers that I got to schmooze with. (I know, the conference is more than a week in the past, but I've been on the road and/or moving house since then. I'm behind. Here's an attempt to be a little less so.) I don’t mind admitting that this is a pretty big part/benefit to going to cons – making connections. I can't possibly manage to recall and mention everyone I spoke to at WisCon. As ever with these things, one does meet a lot of people. So, with no desire to slight anyone, I'll just mention a few folks that I had some in depth time with, especially those to whom I can point you in the direction of their work.

Let me begin with the Bearded One... Yes, once again I got spend time with Patrick Rothfuss! We’ve hung out of several occasions. Always a pleasure. I’d said in a previous post that I’d try to get Pat to pay for a drink. Considering that he’s a NY Times bestselling author now, one assumes he can afford it. But, yet again, he seemed completely oblivious to the process of paying the bill. I – perhaps being too aware of such things – jumped on it and, once again, the credit card flashed and swooped and that was that. Next time, though. Next time I’m gonna hold out…

On that note, I owe one to Ekaterina Sedia. I haven’t forgotten that, Kathy, and I’ll make it up next time.

Knowing that I was going to be on a panel recommending writers of color, I got my butt in gear (mostly) and read a few of the titles I’d had on my shelves. One of them that I really liked was The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor-mbachu. I’ve mentioned Nnedi before, but I hadn’t dove in completely until recently. She’s really good. What she does, in some ways, is simple. She wrote a futuristic coming of age story in a world where national boundaries have collapsed, where many technologies have been lost and others developed, where environmental degradations and years of global war have reshaped nation states… Sound familiar? Okay, but The Shadow Speaker is set in West Africa. It’s about Africans! Amazingly, Africans are a part of the future too! And I don’t mean as computer geeks or medical officers in a future still predominantly white. In this case the novel is just about Africans, in Africa, infused with African folklore and religion and customs. It’s a novel of a brown segment of the earth’s future. Oh, and it’s well written, smart, fast paced and thoughtful on a variety of levels. Nnedi rocks, and I was happy to be able to tell her so in person. I also understand she has an adult themed novel completed. Perhaps we’ll see that before too long.

Meeting Tobias Buckell was a great treat, too. It was especially cool because just hours before meeting him I'd been ripping through his first novel, Crystal Rain, loving it. What do I like about it? Well, it's fast, smart, slick and well-written. You're dropped into the action straight away, and he manages to develop a rather complicated world while still keeping his foot on the gas. And... it's about a future on a planet settled by descendants of Caribbean and Aztec cultures. Cool. He followed it with Ragamuffin and a third, Sly Mongoose, is coming out soon. Check him out if you haven't already. I knew he had good taste - since he liked Acacia - but now I also know he's a skilled writer himself. Tells a good yarn, too. I mean a sitting over coffee type of yarn.

Mary Robinette Kowal is very cool also. She’s in the running for a Campbell Award – so we’re competitors of sorts – but I ended up feeling that was a point of camaraderie instead of competition. Wish we’d talked longer, and I plan to at Denvention! Not only is she a first rate writer, she's a puppeteer...



It was great talking with Alaya Dawn Johnson again. It was a treat when Elizabeth Bear made a point of introducing herself, and it was good catching up with Debbie Smith also (yeah Stonecoast!). Ah… it was fun in lots of ways. If you were there or have heard other folks write about it, you probably know there was a major stomach flu going around. It was ugly. I didn't want to mention it before because I was fully focussed on beating it back so that it wouldn't spoil my BEA trip. I'm glad to finally say that I managed that. Phew.

Soon I'll write up something about BEA. For the moment, though, I'm off to shift books and boxes and various other things... And then jump in the pool...

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